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July 17, 1999
Situation in Pak fluid, say diplomats
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Pakistan-watchers in the ministry of external affairs do not discount the possibility of further unrest in the country despite reports from Islamabad that the chances of the Nawaz Sharief government facing a coup over the Kargil defeat is remote.
Top MEA officials told this correspondent that the extension of the deadline for the withdrawal of the Pakistani forces by a couple of days more has indicated that Islamabad's armed forces are finding it difficult to remove the essential supplies that they had accumulated in the high reaches like the Mushkoh valley.
They pointed out that since this has been discussed by the director-generals of military operations of the two countries and as India understood the problems of a retreating force, New Delhi had quietly acceded to the Pakistani request for the extension of the deadline.
Referring to the recent belligerent statements of the former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Hamid Gul, the officials felt that Nawaz Sharief might weather the storm but he will not be able to suppress the resentment among the right wing organisations and a section of the army.
The officials emphasised that India's acceding to the Pakistani request for extending the deadline would avoid further loss of lives on both sides.
Although right now there was no breakdown of the law and order situation in Pakistan or any sort of revolt among its armed forces, diplomats in both New Delhi and Islamabad have alerted the MEA that the situation is fluid and that the next few weeks could be crucial.
It will be interesting to see what Sharief's claims would be on August 14, Pakistan's independence day.
With general elections in India approaching and the next government likely to assume office only by mid-October, any substantive talks on Indo-Pak relations could take place, effectively, only next year. This again precludes Sharief from claiming any diplomatic sop for mass consumption.
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